Back to Basics: Re-purposing Shipping Containers


Shipping containers, also known as intermodal containers, are large metal boxes made to house goods as they are transported by land or by water. They commonly come in lengths of 20 feet or 40 feet but there are containers as short as 8 feet or as long as 56 feet. A typical container measures 8 feet in width and 8 feet to 9.5 feet in height. They are usually made of corrugated weathering steel and have doors at one end. Shipping containers have helped to advance commerce’s globalization by making it possible to transport goods over long distances and different transport modes without unloading and reloading.

Used shipping containers are readily available for sale around the world. Some shipping companies retire their well-worn units and others put them up for sale after a single use. Because of their durability, intermodal containers can be an attractive building material for the right project and the right vendor.

Commonly, used containers are bought for storage purposes. Their large capacities and ability to withstand weight and the elements make them ideally suited to keep furniture and other stored goods safe. However, containers aren’t limited to storing and shipping. Because they can be stacked on top of each other, containers have been used as building material in unusual but quite practical hotels. West London is home to the very first shipping container hotel. Made in 2008 from 86 modified containers, the project cost about 10% less and was built about 25% faster than a typical stick-and-brick hotel construction process.

Intermodal containers have been notably featured in construction projects including micro-retail spaces, offices, container parks (malls), and a mobile museum. Japan and Rotterdam are homes to large modern sculptures erected from shipping containers and in London containers stacked three stores high form a cheerful, modern children’s center, where kids go to play.

Shipping containers retain usefulness even after they are done transporting cargo. Boxman Studios helps give old containers a new lease on life. Whether it be a permanent structure, a stunning display or an experiential retail space; we remain the one-stop shop for creating new, innovative, and remarkable experiences. Inquire about your idea today!